Below are five essential steps when moving to Panama that we think you should explore in order to make your transition as simple, and exciting as possible.
1. Think about your long term plans, and how Panama fits in them. Moving to Panama is as fun and exotic as it sounds and can be either a temporary or permanent home depending on what your goals are. Before committing to take the leap and move to Panama understanding the finances you have available, the cost of living in Panama, the price of housing and healthcare are the essential initial things to learn.
2. Get a skilled Panama attorney, and start early. A lot of people who decide to move to Panama come before consulting a lawyer, and that’s fine. However, if you want to reduce a ton of hassle, red tape, and costly mistakes, we recommend consulting a lawyer months in advance before you move. A good Panama lawyer can help with getting your legal immigration status processed efficiently, find you the right local bank (and help you open accounts), help establish your business (if applicable), get the proper permits and contracts and connect you with ethical real estate agents. With pre-move contact established you can set yourself up for success upon arrival. Your time is valuable, let an expert guide you through the initial stages, it costs a lot less than making a costly mistake in your early days in country.
3. Sell anything that’s not critically important to move with. It’s common for expats to fill container ships to send their things from other countries as they move to Panama. We suggest you bring only what is sentimental or essential for your mental well being. You will save time, money and red tape by coming with less, not more. Goods are very well priced in Panama and you can find most North American brands here. Many houses come fully furnished and you can find almost everything else you need in the huge malls or hundreds of shopping centers and boutique shops.
4. Start learning/practicing Spanish. Although there is a strong English speaking expat community, learning Spanish before you move to Panama will be immensely helpful for you. Speaking the native language will open many doors, as well as facilitate day-to-day tasks much easier, and with much more efficiency.
5. Shop around when it comes to real estate. Finding a good house takes time, do not rush and do not buy something that is “too good to be true” unless your lawyer has verified that the property is void of liens or disputes. Never use the sellers law firm, always have your own lawyer when buying property. We recommend you contact a highly versatile Panama real estate agency, or agencies, and taking a look at a variety of properties and property types before you make a decision. Whether buying or renting you’re sure to find what you want if you shop around and you can get a lot of that done before you arrive. Panama has different rules, laws and customs when it comes to real estate transactions. Do not come here thinking things are the same as in your home country, trust your lawyer and make the most informed decision possible when choosing your home.